Financial improvement and gambling enthusiasts rolled political dice Monday at a Senate hearing on a bill developing new economic thresholds for improvement of a casino in southeast Kansas and operating rules for racetracks with slot machines.
The cluster of Oklahoma tribal casinos around the state border in southeast Kansas made the requirement of a $225 million casino project and $25 million privilege fee as well steep for potential investors. These benchmarks had been set in 2007 and applied to casinos opened in Mulvane and Kansas City, Kan.
The bill ahead of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee would authorize a $50 million casino using a $5.5 million privilege charge for a casino in either Cherokee or Crawford counties. The revised targets would mirror those enforced when the casino was constructed in Dodge City.
“I adore freedom, I cherish liberty and I strive for the prosperity for our neighborhood, our region and our state,” stated Dale Oglesby, mayor of Galena. “Why would we not do anything we possibly can that would not only let, but encourage improvement of a Kansas facility?”
Doug Gatewood, a former state representative, mentioned a southeast Kansas casino would capture the economic flow of tourists on Route 66 slicing through communities of Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs.
“If we are able to reduce the minimum investment,” Gatewood stated, “it makes the zone viable, and we’ve a number of groups wanting to submit proposals that may advantage Kansas financially.”
Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell and chairman from the Senate committee, stated the hearing was created to accommodate the policy objectives of Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg.
Ostmeyer, an opponent of gambling, said he wasn’t specific no matter if votes existed around the committee to approve Senate Bill 215 or an alternative version restricted only to improvement of a casino.
Beneath the bill, operational limitations inside the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act passed six years ago will be amended for parimutuel greyhound and horse racing tracks. The number of slot machines is set at a maximum of 600 every at the Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan., Wichita Greyhound Park and Camptown Greyhound Park in southeast Kansas.
The bill would permit a range of 400 to 1,200 slots at each web site, with an all round maximum of 2,800 machines as an alternative to two,200 units.
The privilege fee for racetracks would remain $2,500 for every machine, but the quantity of essential reside racing days could be trimmed.
“Should that be allowed to take place, we would see a pari-mutuel track with restricted monetary investment allowed to operate a slot parlor for 365 days a year, but only host live racing 60 days per year,” mentioned Whitney Damron, a lobbyist for the International Speedway Corp. and Penn National Gaming that owns Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kan.
Hollywood Casino ownership is not opposed to investment reforms that may well encourage a casino project in southeast Kansas, Damron mentioned.
Glenn Thompson, executive director of the anti-gambling organization Stand Up for Kansas, said Kansas law ought to become amended to improve odds of a fourth state-owned casino. Nevertheless, he mentioned, initial price of investment ought to be $100 million for the casino improvement and $10 million for the privilage fee to the state.
He said the bill should really involve a prohibition till 2032 from operating slot machines at pari-mutuel licensed racetrack locations.
“We urge you to establish a policy of one particular destination casino in every gambling zone and repeal all provisions in statutes associated with slot machines at pari-mutuel racetracks,” Thompson mentioned.